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Devotionals

The Church in Philadelphia (Part 5)

Unless you are a top athlete, you don’t run the Comrades Marathon for a win, a place in the top ten or even a silver medal. Naturally you want to improve your last years’ time, but your game plan is to finish the race. This Marathon is known as one of the toughest ultramarathons and completing the race is first prize. Anything else is a bonus. Some runners prefer the up run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg whilst others prefer the down run. Something few runners know is that the down run is 60% uphill … yet the parts that descend takes it out of the legs. Either way there are what is known as the Big Five. These are five hills that need to be run whether you go up or down. Yes there are other hills and some long undulating stretches … everything put together makes this race one of the most gruesome to complete within the time limit allowed. I did it fives time. Three finishes, once I cross after the gun and one I bailed. The art of the race is to have a good game (race) plan and to stick to because when you do, you will be an overcomer! You will overcome those hills, those downs runs, those undulating sections like Harrison Flats, the sore legs, the scorching sun, hunger, tiredness, etc., etc. and as an overcomer you will end the race within the time and receive a medal to prove you completed the race.

(1) In a deeper, spiritual and eternal manner, the Lord Jesus speaks of overcomers saying:

Rev 3:12 Him who overcomes

(a) Overcoming the false teachers … those in the synagogue of satan. The believed they were Jews but were satan’s agents. Sadly this is true within the Christian Church today. Many portray themselves as God’s servants. They preach the Gospel, teach the Bible, they are pleasant, lovable, persuasive, friendly … and it’s easy to get caught under their spell because 90 to 95% of what they say and do seems so Biblical … yet after time, perhaps even years, you become aware they are manipulative and controlling. Don’t ever challenge what they say. They are the only voice of authority … they will use examples and illustrations and even passages of the Bible to prove themselves right … but they twist and distort things by adding some truth and mixing it with a little error. You know where this leads too … false teaching. This is how they control, manipulate and convince people that what they say is the truth … yet it is loaded with error. God knows.

(b) Overcoming the onslaughts of satan. This enemy is cunning. He does not work so that you see all he does. He functions in the dark. He deceives, distorts and damns without it being noticed until it’s too late. Not only does he present the “hour of trial” … see yesterday’s Note, he brings many trials and temptations across your pathway, not just to distract you, but to cause you to bring Jesus’ glorious name into dishonor … and with the intent you desert Jesus completely.

(c) Overcoming personal struggles. Everyone, including Christians carry baggage and struggle with issues. It might be financial … you work too hard to make ends meet or to satisfy your greed. It might be … relational … where the distractions separate you from the core business of the Gospel. It might be … health … that starts fade infiltrating and reducing that once hardened Gospel ministry. It might be family, career, studies and many other issues. The Lord Jesus wants us to have a Gospel Plan like I had a race plan. Staying true to the plan (Gospel) and be assured of the tile “overcomer”.

(2) Overcomers become pillars.

Rev 3:12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.

A temple pillar is an important part of the building. All we need to do is travel backwards in time to Samson. Through his lust for women he landed up captured and eyeless. It was sad but not in vain. Where the Philistine leaders wanted to make a mockery out of blind Samson, he, after asking to rest against the main pillar in the pagan temple where thousands where celebrating, he with his renewed strength now that his hair had regrown, pulled down the pillars killing all in the pagan temple including himself. During the days of Philadelphia with its earthquakes, temples were prone to collapse as the pillar refused to stand against such phenomena. Yet … Jesus says He will make overcomers pillars in God’s temple. He was not referring to a literal temple. He is using “temple of God” as a symbol for, in the New Jerusalem there will be no physical temple.

Rev 21:22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

The meaning is important! If God and the Lord Jesus are the temple, the temple is not physical but “presence”! The fact that the overcomer will never leave the temple, unlike the people of the city fleeing the earthquakes, helps us to interpret “pillar” as a metaphor for a “participant” in God’s eternal Kingdom (temple).

(3) Overcomers will be eternally marked. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. The “mark” means ownership. When you remember that Christians have been blood bought and belong to a new owner, the Lord Jesus, having His mark is extremely encouraging. Your name states who you are. A name is important because it identifies.

(a) The overcomer will have the name of God written on them. I will write on him the name of my God This means he is God’s possession.

(b) The overcomer will have the name of the City of God, the New Jerusalem written on him. The name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God. This means the overcomer is a citizen of the eternal city of God.

(c) The overcomer’s citizenship is secured through the Blood stain Cross of Calvary. I will also write on him my new name. Blood bought and blood secured makes the person a citizen of the Eternal City and owned by God. So

Rev 3:13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

As encouraging as this letter is … it is challenging to the reader because it is asking a question “Are you dwelling within this Kingdom?”

O God, mercifully save the lost. Amen.

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